When asked to be the headliner at a show that helps cancer patients and gets central Phoenix a long-awaited skate park, indie folk-punk heroes AJJ had no problem getting on board. The band are filling that top slot at Cowtown S.K.A.T.E.’s Fourth Annual Rock the Bus fundraiser, where proceeds from the event are doubly beneficial.
Both The Joy Bus — a local nonprofit that delivers healthy meals to homebound cancer patients — and Cowtown S.K.A.T.E.’s endeavor to create a skate park in central Phoenix will benefit from the money raised that night.
AJJ’s 13-song Can’t Maintain LP is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. To mark the occasion, the band will perform the record in its entirety, offering up their blend of emotionally raw, passionate, and catchy folk rock.
“Doing it for a good cause seems like a natural way to celebrate the record,” says singer and guitarist Sean Bonnette.
Bonnette is an avid longtime skater who also couldn’t be happier about the creation of a centrally located skate park.
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“We’ve never had one. When I was a kid, we went to the ones in the suburbs, but when I graduated from high school and moved downtown, I was bummed out that there were no sanctioned skate parks. There’s a plethora of good street skating, but this park is much needed,” he says.
It’s the team at Cowtown Skateboards — Laura Martin, Trent Martin, and Ed Cox — who have come to the rescue.
The busy trio have been a Valley skateboarding staple with their shops and as hosts of continuous skate-centric events since the ‘90s. Recently, they created their their charitable arm, Cowtown S.K.A.T.E., and have realized the goal of developing a centrally located Phoenix skate park. They have fostered a relationship with the city of Phoenix and have been able to get a portion (in the neighborhood of 30,000 square feet) of Solano Park — near 15th and Missouri avenues — earmarked for a skate park.
Trent Martin says that though the city of Phoenix has no budget to help with bringing the park plan to fruition, they’ve been very supportive. “They’ve totally embraced it,” he tells us. “Though they have no funding, they’re backing us by allotting the space. And we’ve got a lot of community interest and support, too. One person we’re working with is Ryan Shepherd, who reached out to the city a few years back to do this same project.”
Cowtown S.K.A.T.E. isn't deterred by the city’s inability to contribute financially — it's just glad that the area has been designated and it's committed to activating a part of the space for skating as soon as possible. It's not interested in wasting any time.
“We have wanted to do this skate plaza for so long,” Martin says. “We plan to get one part done and usable while actively pursuing fundraising opportunities to complete the entire parcel of land.”
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The fundraiser night includes skate-punk band Sewer Gap, who write raucous tunes about skateboarding, like “Curb Grinder” and “Light It Up."
This Saturday night fundraiser follows Cowtown’s Locals Only Skateboard Contest, presented by Converse, at Desert West Skateboard Plaza, where Bonnette says he might try his hand at competing.
“I’ve only entered a competition once before, when I was living in Michigan," he tells us. "This will be just for fun and laughs.”